Colossal Dividends If Mike Adams Flourishes

By Jeremy Hritz

It has been one week since the first day of the 2012 NFL Draft, and there is one player that has intrigued me to the point of distraction. There are no doubts surrounding the impact that David DeCastro will make in his rookie year. Players selected rounds three through seven will not be expected to start right away; they will only be expected to compete for a roster spot and contribute on special teams. However, the Steelers second round selection in Mike Adams represents a gray area, and there are two camps: one that believes he will bust and one that believes he will boom. If Adams can fall into the latter category, the effectiveness of the offense line will not only increase, but the effectiveness of the offense as a whole will increase as well. With all of the well-document offensive line issues of the Steelers, if one player is needed to flourish and emerge as a starter from this year’s draft class outside of DeCastro, it is Adams. Yet the questions surrounding what some call his less-than-inspiring work ethic and his character issues challenge his potential of making it work in Pittsburgh.

There is no questioning Adams’ measurable at 6’7 and 322 pounds. However, his combine numbers were ordinary, with a 40 yard dash time of 5.31, a vertical jump of 28 ½ inches, and an abysmal 19 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press (left tackle Matt Kalil, 4th overall pick of the Vikings did 30 reps). These workouts numbers can possibly validate the rumblings of Adams being a lackadaisical player, and while they do not necessarily indicate how good of a football player he can be, it does raise questions about his commitment to physical conditioning.

Adams also arrives in Pittsburgh with baggage surrounding NCAA violations and marijuana usage. This past season at Ohio State, Adams was suspended for the first five games of the season for selling his 2008 Big Ten Championship ring. In January of 2009, Adams was cited for possessing drug paraphernalia (a marijuana pipe), a charge that was dismissed. Most recently, Adams tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine, which he lied about to the Steelers. Whether these issues were just the result of naïve judgment or whether or not they are ingrained patterns of behavior has yet to be seen, but one has to be skeptical about repeated drug offenses. Adams did take the initiative in setting up a meeting with the Steelers to come clean about his marijuana usage and to satisfy unspecified criteria of the team in order to be drafted, but whether or not that commitment can be maintained has yet to be determined. Kevin Colbert’s statement that the team’s relationship with Adams is “day to day” shows that they are still not ultimately convinced of the tackle’s reformation.

The film of Adams shows that he is a capable pass protector who is more patient than he is aggressive; however, this style has been productive for him as in his junior year he shut down the formidable Texan’s J.J. Watt who abused NFL blockers in 2011. While he is not a bulldozer in the running game, he is adept at getting his hands on defenders and manipulating them away from the play (check out Ohio State’s rushing statistics with and without Adams and determine his importance for yourself). The bottom line is that he possesses the tools necessary to play a critically important role at left tackle for the Steelers.

That is why all eyes should be on him in training camp.

If Adams is able to stay focused and seek the influence and guidance of his coaches and fellow teammates, he has a chance to potentially develop into a starter this season. If he was able to achieve the success that he did at Ohio State without a maximal effort, then he has only scratched the surface of his potential. The Steelers coaching staff, especially offensive line coach Sean Kugler, undoubtedly is eagerly anticipating pushing Adams to realize his true capabilities. Influence of veteran teammates, exemplary coaching, and Adams’ love of the Steelers and desire to play for them are what Steelers fans must hope for Adams to overcome his past transgressions. If he does, then I believe the offensive line will gain two new Pro Bowl quality starters this year.

If he does not, his career may lazily go down in a cloud of smoke.

  • gotsixdawg43

    If Max Starks fully recovers, and Colon can stay healthy for more than a week; Adams can sit behind Starks and learn the details of the game and how to behave off the field, while gilbert stays at RT and Colon moves inside.

  • Bleebo77

    I like the idea of Adams backing up LT rather than him starting at RT and then transitioning over. Better to start him learning where they hope he’ll play. The question then becomes what happens with the rest of the line. Time will tell!

  • LabRat0116

    Do really think battling against James Harrison in practice, No BS DeCastro, Pro Bowler Pouncey etc… are going to allow this kid to slack off ???

    I DON’T THINK SO !!!

    Look out Mikey! You’re in for a ride of your life! Hang on!

  • dgh57

    I think DeCastro may become a Pro Bowler this year but I don’t see Adams starting until late in the season at best. Maybe in 2014 season he makes the Pro Bowl. His #s at the NFL Combine are not encouraging to me along with the character issues. Steelers should resign Starks so Adams can progress at a slower pace. In the end I hope he surprises everyone and makes the starting lineup opening day then we can talk Pro Bowls!

  • Intropy

    He’s not a slave. They can talk to him, try to convince him, be good examples. The coaches can order and demand, and the other players can pressure. Different people respond to different things, and this may be a case where Tomlin’s servant leadership will be useful. But ultimately he cannot be forced. Success will demand a degree of effort and commitment from Adams himself.

  • Bobby Bowers

    Gilbert really earned his paycheck last season: playing hard as rookie, getting hurt(shoulder), getting better and becoming a LT starter next season, earning the praise — something rarely happens to a second rounder on bad teams

  • notjustasteelerfan


    Ok where’s a look at the Steelers starting O-line. In My Opinion..
    M.Adams LT
    M.Gilbert LG
    M.Pouncey C
    D.DeCastro RG
    W.Colon RT

  • Paul

    You could be right, I think Adams is going to be good. The circus at OSU caused a lot if their players to lose focus. OTs with his height and arm length rarely do well on bench presses. I have read several accounts that say Adams may be better than Kalail. Adams was a first round target by the Steelers until the pot thing happened.
    The intervviews I have seen of Adams in Columbus leads me to believe he is serious about starting for Pgh. Starks by the way has a lot of issues too. He needs to not gain weight if he would have any chance of coming back.

  • SteelSpine

    Colossol dividends if I won the powerball lotttery. If…if and buts were candy & nuts…
    The most generous way Adams has routinely been described is “underwhelming”. Not because of the pot, The negative was always reported to be his underwhelming attitude (i.e lazy). I think most teams’ staff & their fans dont feel they missed out on getting Adams, & I do know the few draftnick fans of other teams I know had Adams on the shortlist of players they were hoping their team would NOT draft. But of-course we had desparate needs for offensive tackle (especiallly backup OT) for years especially last season, OT was therefore our top need going into this draft. At end of 2nd round any good tackle prospects (including size + workman attitude) are always gone. Taking Adams shows how bad our need for OT became last year, to take a risk of probably wasting a 2nd round pick. I’d rather draft a guy who is not as tall & athletically gifted as Adams but has a workman-type hard-working attitude.

  • LabRat0116

    You’ve never played football and haven’t understand PEER PRESSURE with his type of teammates he will be with. He ain’t in College anymore! I guarantee you, Harrison, Woodley, Pouncey and this new kid called DeCastro will not put up with a slacker amongst them !

    You can bet your sweet *** we Steeler Nation faithful certainly will not!

  • LabRat0116

    IMHO, DeCastro needs to play LG to help out Ben’s blindside and help out the LT.

  • LabRat0116

    I have mixed feelings on Adams as well. But, do you really believe Colbert and Co. would waste a #2 pick on a kid that was simply lazy and a slacker IF they felt he could NOT be rehabbed ? Read my Reply (2) above this one… Adams is a not college student anymore and partying with his college buddys! I believe his teammates will kick is royal butt if he does NOT produce! You know Steeler Nation will be all over him! That said, I’ve always said I would rather have a player with true heart and is a real warrior. (ie… Hines Ward).

  • Maverickchef311

    Jim Tressel ran a pretty loose ship.

    The Steelers don’t. Adams will adjust or be a solid back up.

  • SteelSpine

    Good points, I needed some new angles to get some optimism, so Thanks..

  • Jprankster2005

    I will say it again I think this line is set for the next 6 to 10 yrs…… They will have to draft a replacement for Colon sooner or later…….. But even if we signed Foster long term and didn’t have Colon I think we could still have a great line…….

  • Starks isn’t under contract with the Steelers, and is unlikely to be re-signed.

  • It’s unlikely that the team is going to re-sign Starks. They already have two capable starting OT’s, in Gilbert and Colon.

  • Greg Cosell said that Adams was the most athletic OT in this years draft class.

  • DeCastro is a bigger asset at RG, because he has a rare ability to pull to the left in the run game.

  • Between the combine, the OSU pro day, Adam’s pre-draft visit, and his pow-wow with Tomlin and Colbert, I think that Tomlin has had plenty of opportunities to figure out how this kid ticks, and if he can get through to him. Nothing is 100% certain, but I don’t think Tomlin and Colbert would have pulled the trigger, if they still had their doubts.

  • Raymundo

    But they need quality back-ups. I would love to see Starks re-signed if indeed his injury is healed enough to clear him to play. Starks could groom Adams for the first half of the season (or however long it takes) and then be a swing tackle back-up.

  • Fish

    Agreed 100%. It’s also encouraging when you have an agent direct his client to a team and it’s not motivated by $$$$$. It sounds like the Steelers have a real good working relationship with his agent and that only helps with getting the overall picture in deciding to draft someone with some questionable history.

  • Let’s not get greedy. This is the most talented group of OT’s we’ve had in a long time. Starks is a great guy to have on speed dial, in case someone goes down.

  • Pete

    You never know what you have with any draft pick. Adams could end up a bust but so can DeCastro. We never know what’s inside a man’s heart. I think you are right that Adams has the chance to be a real force on the OL based strictly on his measurables. Lets see how they both adapt to life in the NFL.

  • Pete

    Adams’ “transgressions” are pretty small potatoes if you look at it in context with many other problem children in the NFL. Lets also not forget Marvel Smith tested positive at Arizona State and how did he turn out? Colbert and company obviously feel Adams is worth the risk.

  • Frankthebuc

    Adams is going to surprise. I am sticking with Adams, Colon, Pouncey, Decastro, Gilbert as the starters. I strongly believe that both JScott and Foster will be cut as $1 million backups. Legursky will be extended for a modest backup deal. They have Essex as the swing guard and Tackle.

    Why keep Foster as a 1 year $1 million dollar tender? He is gone next year anyway, he will be shipped off just like Tony Hills and Hartwig were shipped off.

    Max Starks tore his ACL in January, show me one time in NFL history where a 350lb player came back just 8 months after ACL surgery.

    Adams is going to be a very good player and DeCastro will be in the Pro Bowl within two years.

  • Wdmason

    It may be very tempting for him when he gets all that money. He will no longer have to sell treasured items like his ring.. I hope he can resist the easy temptation. Keeping busy and staying away from old hangouts is most important.

  • mokhkw

    Good comparison imo. Marvel Smith was called a “finesse” RT out of College & when he started there for the Steelers. Once Wayne Gandy left for the Saints & Smith moved to LT he flourished. If I recall correctly, Smith only did low-20’s in the bench-reps when he was drafted. I think Adams looks more suited to LT than Gilbert does.

  • Broderick Wallace

    I’d chose Gilbert over Starks at LT. Move Colon inside and let Starks play RT or reserve swing tackle. He is older now and not the young athlete he once was.

  • Dgh57

    Colon will be moved to guard. Therefore they can resign Starks. Injuries will see to it that Starks is resigned.

  • Scottrwhite803

    Adams needs a year, his strength is abysmal and the way he lets people get into his body he is gonna need more strength. Best case scenario for him and the Steelers is for him to get a redshirt year.

  • kevin

    His pass protection skill was rated as exceptional by scout’s inc, I believe.